Jacky Newcomb delves into the magical world of floromancy and shows you how to use flowers and their symbolism to perform spells and see into the future
Since ancient times, flowers have been associated with magical and Divine properties. Their appearance and the messages they can bring us make them the perfect tool for fortune telling and magical enchantment. Don’t you long for the days when the gift of flowers was a simple sign of love? These days you’re more likely to be offered a bag of chips and half-a-pint down the pub, but don’t let this put you off. Men have been known to follow big hints when it comes to gifts; and praise goes a long way to a repeat performance. Why not leave this feature lying around in a prominent place? You never know your luck.
Flowers were one of many different ways that women would ‘tell their fortune’ or look into the future in earlier times. Most women wanted to know who and when they might marry. Years ago, when women didn’t have the opportunity of working outside the home, it was crucial to marry ‘well’. Without a wealthy husband women were doomed to a life of poverty, a life in service (working as a governess or ‘companion’ to a wealthy widow), or one where she relied on moneyed relatives to take care of her. A good marriage (to a wealthy man) was imperative. So, unsurprisingly, one of the most popular uses of floromancy is love divination to find out the state of your love life for the years ahead.
Gathering psychic insight using flowers is called floromancy, but this also includes the study of leaves, plants, trees, colours, and the time of planting among other things. You’ve probably followed floromancy lore already; I bet you’ve treasured four-leaf clovers you’ve found… seeing as they are meant to bring good luck! Did you also pluck the petals off a daisy one-at-a-time when you were a child? We used to call out, ‘He loves me? He loves me not?’ with each petal. The true answer comes with the final pluck. If you want to dream of your true love, place a bay leaf under your pillow. Holly (maybe by the bedside rather than under the pillow) can be used for the same thing at Christmas. Cultures around the world had their own types of plant divination. Anglo-Saxon folklore suggested that if you offered an expectant mother the choice between a rose and a lily, she would choose a rose if the baby was a girl and a lily if it was a boy.
In Korea young women worked with carnations to tell their future. Placing three flowers in her hair, she would watch them to see which died first. The top one meant her last years would be hard, the middle ones meant her earlier years would be hard but, if the bottom one died first, it meant her entire life would be hard… not a happy prospect for the future groom. In the East, a young woman would place a petal in her lover’s hand to see if he had been true to her. Hitting the petal with the side of her hand, she listened for the sound it would make. Silence indicated he had been unfaithful.
Flowers are used by Feng Shui experts to improve energy flow and enhance the energy of our living spaces. Mystics use flowers for metaphysical reasons and homeopaths use them for medicine. They are so important in our waking life that they turn up in dreams, too. Dreaming of flowers can mean many things. Plants/trees that are good omens include; jasmine, lilies, marigolds, oak trees, olive trees, palm trees, thistles, thorns and wormwood. So that you are warned, the plants that are not such good luck include birch, cherry, plum and walnut trees, dandelions and withered roses. If you dream of walnuts it indicates your lover has been unfaithful in traditional divination meanings. Dreams that indicate a long life mainly involve fruit trees. Apricot, apple, fig and grape are all signs of good health. Dreaming of oak (which represents long life in all forms of divination) is also a fantastic omen.
Many different plants have magical associations. Use the plants listed here in your spell work: Clover represents wealth and happy romantic partnerships (you may have heard the old saying ‘living in clover’). Raspberry and cucumber plants signify good love affairs. Violets denote success and prosperity. However, the condition of the fl ower is also important. Is your loving red rose wilted? If so this may indicate lack of attention from that someone special in your life. Healthy plants and fl owers in dreams can represent growth and abundance (a literal blossoming); this might be in reference to either current projects or future dreams.
Mugwort has long been connected to the emotions of women. The dried form of the plant has been used to fi ll herb pillows for magical dreams. Sleeping with the plant in this way can enable you to see into the future and have important spiritual insights. Flowers were also tied up with fairy magic. Another name for clowslip is fairycup. Fairies like hiding in the clowslip bell flowers and, wherever clowslips can be found, you are sure to discover fairy gold nearby. Dandelion clocks (dandelion seed heads) transport our fairy friends. If you blow on a dandelion clock to distribute the seeds you may have a wish in exchange for sending the fairy further on its way
The elves and pixies like to shelter underneath the fern leaves. Be careful not to crush them when you’re out walking. Legend has it that in Russia, at Midsummer, you should cast out a handful of fern seeds; wherever the seeds fall the fairy gold will be hidden. And, finally, we have the foxglove, the ultimate fairy flower. The Irish called it ‘fairybells’ or ‘fairycup’. The fairies looked favourably on anyone growing this most magical of fl owers and the taller the flower, the better. When important magical (and invisible) folk walk by, the foxglove is said to bow its head in respect.
When you have only two pennies left in the world, buy a loaf of bread with one, and a lily with the other’
Did you know that flowers could speak? They may not have a voice-box, but they can bring you messages just the same. You probably already have a favourite type of flower. What flower would you buy for yourself if money were no object? Flowers have a type of personality don’t they? Daisies are full of innocence, white orchids are exotic and sensual, bright yellow tulips are just fun. Make a list of all of your favourite flowers. What are they telling you just by looking at them? Are they who you are, or who you want to be? Next select a flower. Hold it in your hands and close your eyes. Merge your soul with the energy of the flower and write down what you feel. Spend a few minutes just relaxing and holding the flower; touch it, stroke it, sense it. When you are ready, make a few notes. What is the flower telling you? There are no right or wrong answers, it’s just a learning experience. Practice until you feel comfortable with the experience. Have a go with friends and then compare notes afterwards. Maybe you could read for each other.
Secret messages in the flowers
We all know that a ready-prepared bunch of flowers from the local garage is not the same as blooms selected and hand-wrapped from the exclusive flower shop in town. Yet the gift of a single rose plucked by the hand of your lover is worth even more than a whole bunch from the fl orist down the road. Each flower has its own special meaning. The meaning of the red rose has stayed true, but over the years different flowers have been appropriate in different situations. Calla lilies have been used as both wedding and funeral flowers; they symbolise resurrection and rebirth. Wreaths are often used at funerals, but are just as appropriate hanging on the door at Christmas. Laurel and rosemary branches are frequently used in funeral wreaths; both mean remembrance and honour.
Flower etiquette at these times is important. Many religions accept funeral fl owers as an expression of love during the grieving period, but Hindu funerals do not traditionally have flowers as part of the funeral ritual. Mormons don’t accept flower crosses and in Judaism you don’t send the flowers until after the funeral and, even then, only as a gift for the family rather than part of the funeral service itself. White flowers would be acceptable at the funeral of a Christian funeral, but not welcome by Muslims or Orthodox Jews. And finally, don’t send a Buddhist red flowers; thank goodness your local florist or funeral director can advise on these things because none of this is set in stone and ‘traditional ideas’ change all the time.
In Victorian England things were even more complicated. Some say women had far too much time on their hands then – individual flowers had specific meanings and a whole secret message could be sent to your lover in a bunch of flowers. The language of flowers is called floriography. A tussie-mussie or ‘nosegay’ is the name given to a small bunch of flowers, which was given as a love gift. During medieval times they were carried around to mask unpleasant smells (both from the body and inside the home). They were created literally to keep the nose gay (that is, happier without the unpleasant smells). During Queen Victoria’s reign they were also a fashion accessory and bouquets would often include the symbolism and hidden meanings shown in the chart on the right.
Flowers have magical meanings and are also used in spells. These can be done for all sorts of purposes and often stem from society’s use of flowers. For example, we often give gifts of flowers for celebrations; we send them along with our ‘good wishes’; they are used as gifts for weddings, engagements, birthdays, new births and funerals; we hand them over as thank-yous, get-well-soons and goodbyes. We work with ‘spells’ almost instinctually by following these age-old rituals along with the giving of a gift, eg, a card with special greeting words inside or the blowing out candles on a birthday cake (candle magic). What magical rituals do you follow at home? For the simplest form of flower magic, try placing a vase with a single bloom next to the photograph of a loved one. You don’t even need to say any words because the act of adding the flower is powerful enough to send your love to the person in the photograph – of course you can always say, “I love you,” each time you pass the picture if you want to. Flowers can bring good luck, especially if you wear or display the flower of your birth month (see right). As you might expect they have divination meanings, too.